by Zane Pratt
Muslims are human beings, created in the image of God, like everyone else. Muslims are also sinners in need of the Savior, like everyone else. Muslims are neither more nor less lost than any other lost person. Muslims make up many of the tribes, tongues, peoples, and nations of the earth, and Jesus died to redeem a people for himself from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation—including the Muslim ones. It is true that Muslims have traditionally been regarded as resistant to the gospel, but God is no less powerful to save in Arabia than he is in Alabama. It takes no more of a miracle to bring a Muslim from death to life than it does to bring a nonbelieving Westerner from death to life. Most Muslims have never heard the gospel because Christians have been too afraid to take it to them. When Christian witnesses have gone to Muslims, planted their lives, learned the local language, stayed for years, and shared the gospel, they have seen fruit. The issue is not Muslim resistance but Christian disobedience.
The vast majority of all Muslims are not terrorists. Muslims are often highly hospitable. They can make great neighbors and close friends. Here are some helpful ideas for engaging Muslims and sharing the gospel with them.
1. Be hospitable. Invite them into your home and feel free to accept their invitations into theirs. Reach out to them in friendship without fear.
3. Talk openly about your faith. Westerners tend to be shy about discussing religion, but most Muslims are not, and they take Western silence as an indication that our religion does not mean much to us.
4. Pray openly in Jesus’ name around Muslims. Pray at meals, and pray out loud for them at the close of any visit.
5. Demonstrate to them that there is a difference between being an American (or Canadian or Australian or whatever you are) and being a Christian. They tend to think they are the same thing, and they evaluate Christianity by what they see in Western movies and TV shows. Make it clear that although you were born into your nationality, you had to be born again into faith in Jesus, and that your faith in him puts you out of step with your own culture.
6. Muslims use many of the same religious words as Christians, and they have at least some version of many of the same stories. However, the worldview of Islam is radically different from that of the Bible. What they mean by those words and those stories is quite different from what the Bible means. They need the correction of a biblical worldview for the gospel to make sense to them, and that is best gained through knowing the whole narrative of Scripture. Tools like Chronological Bible Storying can be quite useful in giving Muslims the context in which to understand the message of the gospel.
7. If a Muslim tells you that the Bible has been changed, ask him where, hand him a Bible, and challenge him to read it and show you where it has been changed. If a Muslim challenges you to explain the Trinity, do not approach the subject philosophically but rather in terms of biblical theology. Show him where the Bible teaches that there is only one God. Show him where the Bible teaches that Jesus is God. Show him where the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is God. Then show him where the Bible demonstrates that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are Persons relating to one another. Whenever asked any question, keep going back to the text of Scripture.
8. Try to discuss the gospel with Muslims one on one. In groups, Muslims often feel pressure to adhere to the party line. By themselves they are more likely to listen and interact openly.
9. Muslims, like everyone else, need to know they are lost before they will realize their need for the Savior. Muslims generally have a low view of sin, regarding it as an external act rather than a matter of the heart. The law of God in the Bible, and particularly the Sermon on the Mount, are particularly good tools for showing Muslims their true condition before God.
10. Get them in the Word of God. Get them reading it themselves. When all is said and done, prolonged exposure to the Word of God and to the lives of Christians have been the key factors for most Muslims who have come to faith in Jesus.
11. Pray. This is a spiritual battle. Pray daily that God would open their hearts and minds, set them free from bondage to sin, and protect them from anyone or anything that would keep them from Jesus.
12. Persevere. Few Muslims come to faith the first time they hear the gospel. It takes loving perseverance on the part of Christians to see Muslims embrace Jesus.
Editors’ note: This is an excerpt by Zane Pratt from Missiology: An Introduction, Second Edition (B&H Academic, 2015), edited by John Mark Terry. Terry is professor of Missions at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He served with the International Mission Board for twenty-four years in Southeast Asia. Pratt serves as Vice President for Global Training for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He also is Associate Professor of Missions at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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